There is a fashion trend that’s hot right now, a trend that has a lot of legitimate prescription lens wearers a bit upset. What is that trend? The trend of wearing fake glasses to make yourself look more hip or intelligent. One could make the case that fake eyeglasses are just as vain as designer sunglasses. But before you make any pronouncements, let us compare the two just to be sure.

For the record, fake glasses are eyewear frames with either no lenses or just thin, transparent lenses that offer no vision correction. In either case, they are worn only for the purpose of changing a person’s look. People who sport fake glasses apparently do so because of the image of intelligence and sophistication they project.

The Psychological Appeal of Fake Glasses

It used to be that glasses were considered the domain of nerds and the socially awkward. Back in the 60s and 70s, getting your first pair of glasses as a schoolchild was akin to catching social leprosy. Kids who wore glasses were considered too intelligent to mingle with their classmates. Things were similar for adults. So what changed?

According to a professor of psychology at the University of Massachusetts, it is all about making a fashion statement based on perceived social benefits. Professor Susan Krauss Whitborne told the Daily Texan that “there are six shared social cues wearing glasses may provide to others, which includes honesty, trustworthiness, intelligence, higher social class and lower threat levels, depending on the type you choose to wear.”

In short, the good professor was explaining that wearing glasses creates certain social impressions that other people pick up on. There are people with perfectly fine vision who wear fake glasses solely for the purpose of projecting such an image. Is that vanity? That’s up to you to decide.

Why People Buy Designer Sunglasses

Moving on to designer sunglasses, Utah-based designer and distributor Olympic Eyewear maintains that there is a distinct and crucial difference between the products they sell and fake eyeglasses. That difference is found in the primary purpose of sunglasses: to protect the eyes against both direct sunlight and harmful UV rays.

Olympic Eyewear has a point. People are going to wear sunglasses on sunny days regardless of brand or label. If there were no designer sunglasses to be found on the planet, people would still purchase generic sunglasses and wear them instead. That’s not to say there isn’t some level of vanity being practiced by people with an eye for fashion.

Designer sunglasses are viable consumer products because people still want to look good while protecting their eyes. And yes, there are individuals willing to spend twice as much on the most expensive brand simply because they want the designer’s name etched on the inside of the frames. But the underlying purpose for buying sunglasses remains the same: eye protection.

Fashion Is Not a Bad Thing

To summarize the entire matter, it’s fair to say that fashion is not necessarily a bad thing. It is true that all of us may not agree with the idea of wearing fake eyewear simply to project an image of sophistication or intelligence. But even if we do not agree, we can’t escape the fact that all of us make some fashion choices based on the image we are trying to project.

If people want to wear fake glasses to make themselves look smarter, that is their right and privilege. The only saving grace for individuals who are forced to wear prescription lenses is that the fad will eventually die. Fads always do.